Native Plant Profile...Serviceberry
The Serviceberry. also known as , is a large shrub or small deciduous tree,
growing various heights to 25 feet. Commonly found along woodland edges,
swamps, and thickets, Serviceberry grows either in clumps with several stems
or in a small tree form. It grows well in sun or shade, but flower and fruit
production greater in sun.
Serviceberry provides food for many species of wildlife:
Ruffed Grouse, Mourning Dove, Common Flicker, Hairy, Downy, and
Red-headed woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe,
Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, Brown Thrasher, American Robin, Wood, Hermit and Swainson’s Thrush, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Red-eyed Vireo, American
Redstart, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Cardinal,
Red-breasted Grosbeak, Junco, Song Sparrow, Beaver, Red fox, Red Squirrel,
Juneberry, Shadblow, Shadbush
Flower: Early blooming , flowering before
Flowering Dogwood. Flowers are white, long-petaled blossoms from March to
Fruit: Dark purple fruits from June to
August are 1/3-inch diameter, apple like, sweet and can be used in pie and
Landscape Notes: A favorite since colonial
times, the Serviceberry provides beauty year round. Fall leaf color is deep
orange to rusty red. Gray bark with distinct dark vertical lines provides
winter interest. It can be planted as a specimen or in the forest understory,
and is particularly striking when planted against an evergreen backdrop.
Suitable for planting along ponds and woodland edges.
Serviceberries are cover for: Eastern
Kingbird, American Robin, Wood, Hermit and Swainson’s Thrush
Serviceberries are nest trees for:
Eastern Kingbird, American Robin and Wood Thrush
American Robin is not really a robin. It is the largest of the Thrushes
found in North America. This bird was named by the early English settlers
who thought it looked very similar to the Robin of their homeland, with both
birds having red breasts. Our American Robin is a bird that is familiar to
most people, as it has adapted to living in man- made environments.
The adult Robin is 81/2 “ in length and can be as large
as 11”. The head is black to dark gray in color, with the male’s head deep
black in the spring mating season. The breast feathers are dull red- orange,
with the female having a paler color. Juveniles have white spotted breasts
until they molt into the adult plumage. White spots around the eyes give the
appearance of broken eye rings. Wings are gray and the bills are thin and
yellow. Males are slightly larger.
American Robins are one of the first birds to sing in
the dawn and the last at night. Their song of “chirrup, cherry-up, cherry-up
“ or the loud “chup “ is one of the most common wildlife sounds heard in the
suburbs. Robins have alarm calls to warn others of predators in the area.
These birds breed generally where lawns and other short
grass areas are mixed with shrubs and trees. They will also breed in conifer
areas where openings or grassy areas are nearby. Robins will sometimes use a
nesting platform and Wildacres has plans on how to build one. The breeding season runs from April to August with the birds
being capable of raising three broods a year.
monogamous with pair bonding taking place in early spring. The female builds
the nest, which consists of grass, twigs, and mud in an open cup shape. It
is lined with soft material. The nest is located in trees or bushes about 5
to 15 feet off the ground.
On the average
3 to 4 blue eggs are laid, which are incubated for 12 to 14 days. The young
will leave the nest in 14 to 16 days.
Males will help feed the young, but
the female is the only one that sits on the nest. Once the young are on
their own they join the males in the nighttime roosts. Once the female
finishes raising her last brood, they will join the nighttime roost that can
range from 20 to 200 robins. It is thought that nighttime roosts serve as protection
from predators. Robins can also be found in roosts of Grackles and
Starlings. These roosts from fall to early spring can move about in a random
fashion that is dependent on food sources such as berries. They are capable
of landing on a holly tree in late winter and eating the entire berry crop!
Listen to the American Robin
Robins are considered short distant, daytime migrants.
You may not see them in your backyard in the fall or winter, but the birds
are found at the local bottomland woods and/ or near berry- bearing trees.
The birds that you find in the fall and winter in your area probably were
raised just a few hundred miles to the north of you. Robins come back into
the backyards in early spring, as the soil warms up making insects and worms
available as food.
American Robins eat different foods through out the
year. In the spring and summer the diet is high in protein with insects and
worms consisting of 40% of the birds diet. Robins find earthworms by sight
and hearing. It is quite common to see the birds running, stopping, cocking
their head to hear their prey then tugging the worm out of the ground. These
birds certainly help the farmer by eating ground beetles and weevils. They
eat fruit year round, with favorites being cherry, dogwood, grape, red
cedar, blackberry, holly, blueberry, elderberry. spicebush and viburnums.
Currently the population of American Robins is stable.
Robins live on average about two years. Since these birds eat so many insects
and worms in human environments, they can serve as an indicator of chemical
Containers can be used to grow almost anything.
You can certainly experiment with different shapes, sizes and depths
of containers to plant species that attract wildlife. You can grow plants in containers year round.
Containers with native plants can link your terrace or patio linked to
The pluses of container planting are that you start
with good soil and easy access and if you make a mistake. it can be fixed
fairly quickly. You get a chance to experiment and try different plants
and control the right exposure to the sun and planting conditions such as
moisture and pH.
Some things to consider when
planting containers should help your success...
Check your containers daily to see if they need
water. Container plant roots cannot reach the ground’s subsurface water.
In vary hot weather; check small containers at least 2 times a day. Also
be aware that clay and terra cotta pots dry out quicker than wood or
Do not put container plants in full mid-day sun.
Containers heat up quicker than the soil. If you move containers to the
shade, think about placing them next to a wall that can reflect light,
so they can get the benefits of indirect sunlight.
Fertilize the plants. Container plant roots cannot
reach the nutrients of a ground soil. Try a water-soluble fertilizer
every 2-4 weeks.
Make sure you have good drainage. Have holes in the
bottom of your containers for this purpose. If not possible, place 1 to
2 inches of gravel at the bottom of the container to help.
When a plant begins to fade or stops blooming, find
another to replace it. This way you can have vigorous plants from spring
to frost. You can control your amount of bloom.
Ideas for what to plant to
attract wildlife each season...
Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Ferns
Larkspurs, Nasturtiums, Petunias and Water Gardens using Native Aquatics
such as native sedges, rushes and reeds. Make sure you are not using any
non-native aquatic that might escape and harm the native plants of your
nearby streams and ponds.
When planting trees or shrubs in containers, plant them in frost safe ones
such as those made of cement or stone.
For additional information: Contact your local native plant society to see what
success they are having with container gardening.
Planting that Sun-baked Hillside
sunny hillside near a residence usually means you are dealing with CLAY.
Take a shovel and dig under the surface. If you are the owner of a yard full
of hard pan clay, with little topsoil, don’t dismay. The solution to
planting this tough place is to amend the existing soil with compost to
Depending on the slope, terracing the hillside will
give you more planting space and the opportunity to construct raised beds on
the terraces: and the addition of an arbor can reduce the sun’s rays.
If you would like a simpler solution, and your hillside
is not too steep, try planting a native meadow. If you can connect your
meadow with an existing shrub border or flowerbed, do so. A continuous
stretch of habitat is more appealing to birds than isolated island beds,
where there is nowhere to flee from predators.
Here are some tried and true
plants for clay soils in full sun.
indigo (Baptisia australis) grows naturally in sun-baked
clay soils from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. It has a deep taproot, which
allows it to grow under such tough conditions. The leaves emerge in spring
and are followed by spikes of pea like blue flowers in May.
Give this plant water and compost during the first two
years and you will be rewarded with a plant that can reach five feet and
This plant should be placed in the back of any border
you are creating, where its blue –green foliage makes any oranges, reds and
yellows of your plantings jump out with color. The black seedpods and stems
add interest to the garden in winter.
Another clay-tolerant meadow plant with a sturdy taproot is the
Butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa).
As with false indigo this plant takes a year or two to establish itself, so
start off with a sturdy plant. Butterfly flower forms two-foot clumps of
bright orange flowers in July. Use it as an accent plant. Mature plants are
rounded with tough stiff stems.
(Echinacea) will withstand blistering heat, and will
reseed in a reliable way. They provide goldfinches with months of food in
the form of seeds from their flower heads. If you want goldfinches, plant
them. Wildacres would like to thank Marie Erb for her original work on this
information on composting and meadows check out the articles on these
subjects on the Wildacres site
If you enjoyed this issue of Habichat, you might want to check out
our online back issues and clickable listing of Habichat articles.
Click here for online back issues.
Photograph of Coneflowers in collage, courtesy of Dr. James
University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service
Photograph of newborn robins in nest in collage, courtesy of Rob
Photograph of Serviceberry Flowers & Foliage courtesy of Rick
Wallace and the US Forest Service
Photograph of Serviceberry Fruit, courtesy of Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Bioimages,
Photograph of Serviceberry flower (close-up), courtesy of Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Bioimages,
Photograph of American Robin on tree branch, courtesy of Michael
Photograph of newborn robins in nest, courtesy of Rob
Photograph of Robin Nest in hanging basket, courtesy of Lynn
Betts, NRCS Photo Gallery
Photograph of native rhododendron courtesy of Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural
Photograph of Juniper in pot.
Photograph of Blue Wild Indigo courtesy of Tennessee Valley Authority
Photograph of Butterfly flowers courtesy of courtesy of Britt Slattery, USFWS,
Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Bayscapes
Photograph of Coneflowers courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University,
Here is a listing of phone numbers, web sites and organizations that you might find helpful or interesting in your search for ideas to manage your wild acres.
DNR Online... Inspired by nature!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at
backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North
America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each
species they see at their feeders from November through early April.
FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird
populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project
FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership
with the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian
Nature Federation. http://birds.cornell.edu/pfw
National Wildlife Federation - Details on their backyard habitat program www.nwf.org or call them at 1-800-822-9919.
Native plants - The Maryland Native Plant Society offers information dedicated to protecting, conserving and restoring Maryland's native plants and habitats, visit them at
Maryland Cooperative Extension offers home and garden information, tips publications, plant problems, Bay issues, and other links at
Their Home and Garden Information number is statewide and can be reached at
1-800-342-2507, and from outside Maryland at 1-410-531-1757.
Bioimages, a project of
Vanderbilt University, provides educational information to the public on
biologically related topics, as well as a source of biological images for
personal and non-commercial use.
Maryland's "Becoming an Outdoors - Woman Program
"- One of the topics covered in the three-day workshops is Backyard
For a free wildlife & native
plant newsletter, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute at
and subscribe to the WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-newsletter. You can
also visit this website to learn how you can become a certified wildlife habitat
For more information on butterflies - visit the North American Butterfly Association at
Warm season grasses and wild meadows for upland nesting birds visit Pheasants
Forever at www.pheasantsforever.org or e-mail:
We want to hear from you!
Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how
successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on
Write to Me!
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD 21401
Access For All
Click here for online back issues.
Habichat, the newsletter for Wild Acres participants, is published by the Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The facilities and services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are available to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability. This document is available in alternative format upon request from a qualified individual with a disability.